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Native American Legends: Bad Spirit
Name: Bad Spirit
Tribal affiliation: Cayuga, Tuscarora, Oneida
Native names: Hah-gweh-da-et-gah, Enigonhahetgea, Enigohatgea; Ka'tikenhra:ksen, Got-ti-gah-rak-senh
Also known as: Bad Mind, Left-Handed Twin
Type: God of evil, death spirit
Related figures in other tribes: Tawiscara (Huron/Iroquois), Molsem (Wabanaki)
In the mythology of some Cayuga and Tuscarora communities, Bad Spirit is one of the
sons of the mother goddess Sky Woman.
In the mythology of other Iroquois tribes, Sky Woman was the
grandmother of the legendary twins instead. Bad Spirit was the antagonist of humankind, creating natural disasters,
disease, and poisonous animals; according to some stories, he even brought death into the world.
Meanwhile his brother, Good Spirit,
opposed everything he did and tried to help the people. According to most versions of the
myth the two brothers eventually fought, and Good Spirit was victorious.
Other details of the Bad Spirit myth vary greatly depending on the community and the storyteller.
In some versions, Bad Spirit is nearly identical to the Huron
Tawiscara, and kills his mother
in childbirth by bursting through her side. In many versions, Sky Woman survives and tries to mediate
between her sons-- most often she advocates for balance, saying that there must be both good and evil in the
world, but sometimes she takes the part of Good Spirit and helps to imprison Bad Spirit, and other times she
favors Bad Spirit and rejects Good Spirit for defeating him.
Bad Spirit Stories
Three versions of the Iroquois Creation Story:
A comparison of three Iroquois myths about the birth of Good Mind and Bad Mind.
The Birth of Good and Evil:
Oneida myth about Sky Woman's twin grandchildren.
Haudenosaunee Creation Story:
A different Oneida version of the myth about Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
Cayuga myth about Sky Woman and her sons Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
Tuscarora creation myth including the defeat of Enigonhahetgea (Bad Mind.)
Seek Your Father:
Seneca legend about the Good-Minded and Bad-Minded Twins.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
The Oneida Creation Story:
Several versions of the Oneida myth of creation.
Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Long House:
Book on the mythological traditions, ceremonies, and religious life of the Cayuga Indians.
Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, And History:
Book of Oneida legends and oral history.
Iroquois Indian Myths And Legends:
Collection of legends from the Cayuga, Oneida, and other Iroquois tribes.
People of the Longhouse
New York Indian community
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